Acupuncture stimulation decreases heart rate (HR) through somato-autonomic reflexes. However, the mechanisms responsible for other cardiovascular changes induced by acupuncture, such as its effects on stroke volume (SV) and blood pressure (BP), remain obscure.
To evaluate continuously the comprehensive cardiovascular changes occurring during acupuncture.
20 healthy men participated in the study. HR, SV and BP were measured in the supine position using electrocardiogram, transthoracic impedance cardiography and continuous non-invasive finger blood pressure, respectively. Manual acupuncture stimulation using a stainless steel needle was performed at LI10 for 60 s after resting periods of approximately 15 min.
HR was reduced and SV increased, in parallel, during the period of acupuncture stimulation (P<0.01, respectively). Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) decreased in the 10 s period of acupuncture stimulation compared with the 120 s pre-stimulation period (P<0.01) and recovered close to the pre-stimulation reading instantly after the transient reduction. No change was observed in cardiac output (CO) derived from HR and SV.
This study indicates that HR reduction during acupuncture does occur, as previous reports have indicated. SV increased during acupuncture stimulation in parallel with HR reduction and CO was maintained during these changes. Any reduction in DBP caused by acupuncture recovered to baseline, likely due to baroreflexes.